cheat - don't use every finger on every string like the books suggest in strange cramped positions.
if you want open chords 90% of songs are D C and G
2 bar chord shapes and don't worry about extending your fingers to cover the bottom E - move them up and down the neck is all you need.
You don't always need all 6 strings - pick what feels the most comfortable and sounds OK, Ronnie Wood hooks his thumb over to get the bottom string so so can you.
and comfort yourself with fact that if you try it on an acoustic guitar with strings that could hold up a suspension bridge, it'll be agony, which is what not all, but many acoustic guitarists deserve.
If it still doesnt sound right, get a loud valve amp and a fuzz box!
Bar Chords are only really useful for Prog Rock, Jazz and Gay Disco, pretty much EVERYTHING else is G, C and D. Possibly Em and Am if you want to be fancy, but be CAREFUL.
UPDATE: and more, cheers Gaz!
If anything learning is easier on electric guitar, cos (as a rule, with the exception of spectacularly bad electrics) there's less tension in the strings, so it's easier going on your wrists... If you actually mean how much pain you're in with your fingertips some guitarists recommend applying surgical spirit to the fingers of your fretting hand last thing at night. I did that when I was learning, though the real noticable difference it made, i don't know. it certainly didn't do any harm, though.
Start with your open chords - C, D, G, A E AND THE MINORS Am, Em Dm then when your hands are more used to it go on to barre chords, I'd start with the E-shape, then the A-shape. If you want really easy stuff to go at you don't even need barre chords. Power chords will do it, but if I explain them it will seem much too wanky. You can move them anywhere and not worry about whether you're playing the right one or not. If all else fails, do what the kidz are doing nowadays. Tune the E string (bottom E, thickest string) down to a D and use one finger on the E, A and D strings. Now move it up and down the frets anywhere you like. Instant modern rock music. Also, you get to say "I play in drop D" and people will assume you know what you're on about and that you must be able to play guitar.
It's really Orange's equivalent of those old tiny plastic novelty marshall stack amps that guitar shops have sold forever. The difference is that this one has it's speaker housed in a wooden cabinet so it doesn't sound like a guitar shop joke. It's no 2x12 Valve amp either but it's small, cheap and perfectly functional. It does distortion too, for when you want to pretend you're Ace Frehley. and the real clincher is that it has a built-in guitar tuner. And you'll get one for about the price of a cheap guitar tuner.
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